My wife is having some unusual fit issues and I was hoping someone here has seen this sort of thing before...
Four score and seven years ago my wife was a competitive Celtic dancer. For 19 years she was whacked with a stick by mean old Scottish women who wanted her to keep her back straight, hips rolled forward. Now, after 19 years of being beaten into submission and rolling her hips forward, she no longer sits on her sit bones.
The result is that when she sits on a bicycle saddle she is not sitting on her sit bones, but is instead sitting on the soft, unmentionable fleshy bits. This, as you can imagine, causes much pain and bruising.
We've tried 7 different saddles with mixed results. She's on a Sella Italia Gel Women's saddle now that has been the best so far, but does not in itself solve the problem. She's also using Pearl Izumi shorts with a very well designed pad, but this is also only one facet and not a fix.
She's currently riding a Trek 1000. Maybe that's half the problem... The size fits her well, but the TT is a bit long (51cm) so we've tested/rented a smaller Cervelo frame that is shorter in the TT (47cm) and this was better for her because it brought her weight back a little and didn't stretch her out even more.
So, we're getting closer but I don't want to spend $1,500 on the Cervelo if it is not going to solve the problem. We've tried getting a professional fit from the best guy in town, but they've claimed her seating position and angles are perfect, save for the fact that her hips are rolled forward.
Does anyone have ideas on this? Ever seen this before? Ever fit a bike to a former ballet or Celtic dancer?
I used to do Tai Chi where my hips were re-aligned and that was quite a positive move for cycling.
When you say "forward" does that mean the top of the hip is further forward or further back than "normal".
This may sound insane given how hard the center ridge is, but it may be worth the time to try a brooks saddle. My wife wouldn't try one and suffered with about 6 different plastic saddles. She finally tried the brooks and it's the first one that doesn't hurt.
By "forward" I am trying to say that the top of her hips are rolled forward so that her back is perfectly straight. Many of the seats we've tried have the cut-out in the middle, but the design places seams on the ridges of those cut-outs which are stiff and worse than a normal saddle!
We've tried softer, cushier saddles with no luck -they're usually worse based on design- and I don't think the saddle will fix it anyway. I'm thinking now that I need to get her sitting more upright, so perhaps moving toward a hybrid with a flat bar. I'm starting to think that any road/tri frame will be designed to bring the rider forward and down, which only makes it worse... so maybe an upright position will keep her weight back more?
What you're describing your wife already does sounds a lot like what the ideal position is for anyone. Serious cyclists who ride road bikes are usually advised to roll their pelvis forward. Maybe instead of a change of bikes, you could just try a higher handlebar. That way, she will keep the flat back, but it just won't be down as low. This may help with the saddle pressure up front. A flat bar isn't an answer in any way whatsoever. All you do is give up useful hand positions. If you are already thinking about a switch to a flat bar, just raise the drop bar instead. It ends up pretty much the same. My daughter finds her road bike very comfortable. She just ignores the "rules" and rides with her handlebars higher than the saddle. She still has a flatter back than almost anyone else I see, even pro racers, and certainly more than her old dad. From what I can tell, this is often a good solution for women. Maybe it's due to peculiarities of female anatomy.
If you want the saddle a bit further back to compensate for the higher handlebar position, you certainly don't need a new bike for that (unless the saddle is already maxed out on the rails).
I think you're on the right track. Raising the handlebar height will likely relieve her pain. On a threadless headset, unless you have enough spacers stacked on top of bar, raising the bar can be an expensive proposition. You'll need a new fork with an uncut stem so you can stack some spacers underneath.
Unless she really needs a bike styled like a racer, your idea of a bike with a more upright position sounds good. I agree that a flat bar on the same bike and forks won't help. It won't move her position significantly, if at all. If you do go with raising the existing bars, I like the extra set of brakes on the tops that cyclocross riders use. A flat bar in conjunction with a taller stem could also help.